Jarrod Lyle is the second recipient of the PGA Tour Courage Award, and unlike most awards, this is an honor few can debate.
Lyle is a 34-year-old Tour pro from Australia who has overcome two battles with acute myeloid leukemia in his life, once as a teenager and then again in 2012. At the Greg Norman Gold Medal Dinner hosted before this week’s Australian PGA Championship, 1991 British Open champion Ian Baker-Finch presented Lyle with the honor.
“I am very humbled to be receiving this award from the PGA Tour,” Lyle said in a statement. “It has taken a lot of fighting for me to get back to the PGA Tour but it has been well worth it. For me to get back after the things I have dealt with shows people in similar situations there is hope for them, and if they stay positive and fight for every day then they can succeed in life. To be back playing with all the guys again and saying thank-you was very important to me. The players, officials and fans of the PGA Tour were extremely supportive to me and my family throughout my time away and I can never repay them for that.”
Lyle first endured the disease when he was a teenager, and he was confined to his bed for nine months during chemotherapy. In March 2012, he received the news his leukemia had returned, just as his wife, Briony, was due to deliver their first child and in the middle of his fifth season on the PGA Tour. Lyle delayed his treatment to witness his daughter’s birth, then checked into another hospital for treatment. He made his professional golf comeback in December 2013 at the Talisker Masters in Australia, then returned to the PGA Tour at the 2014 Frys.com Open. Before that event, Lyle said he was undergoing no further treatment, except a penicillin tablet every morning.
“I’ve obviously annoyed somebody somewhere. They’ve chucked it at me twice now, so I’ve disappointed someone,” Lyle joked before the 2014 Frys.com. “It’s something that makes me very proud, that I’ve never sort of backed away from the fire, I’ve sort of come straight up to it. I don’t know whether that’s me being an Aussie or something, but I’ve just gone into it head first and said, look, it’s not going to beat me. I’m not going to let it beat me because I had things I wanted to achieve. I wanted to get married, I wanted to have kids, I wanted to get back here and play golf. I’m just looking forward to the future now, and I don’t know what life is going to have in store for me in years to come, but right now I’m here to play golf, and that’s what I’m going to do.”
The award comes with a $25,000 charitable donation given to the charity of Lyle’s choice. Lyle will donate the money to Challenge – Supporting Kids with Cancer, an Australian non-profit that assists children and their families who are living with cancer.
“The things they do for families and kids with cancer are amazing, and it’s another way that I can help them keep providing the services they do and continue to bring smiles to kids’ faces,” Lyle said.
Lyle joins Erik Compton as the only other recipient of the award. Compton underwent two successful heart transplants before finding success on the PGA Tour, most notably finishing tied for second at the 2014 U.S. Open.